Unlike most of us, Sony Online Entertainment's EverQuest Next—billed as " the largest sandbox MMO ever designed "—knows the feeling of getting your entire guts scooped out by a giant ladle. During the SOE Live convention held last week, President John Smedley said discarding Next's design was intentional to avoid aping "more of the same" from contemporary MMOs. Elaborating on that thought, Smedley told Massively the Next team saw "the writing on the wall" for the genre's trends in player retention when starting over.
"What we're really changing is what the game is all about," he explained. "All the design elements. We made one fundamental shift to emergent gameplay. Once we made that shift, everything else had to follow. And what we saw was Rift. We saw The Secret World. We saw the writing on the wall with Star Wars: The Old Republic. We saw all these games that we knew were in development and very high-quality, but we saw what was going to happen—this big spike and then it goes down."
"That's the truth of what's been happening with MMOs," Smedley continued. "The fans need to realize that if you don't change the nature of what these games are, you're not going to change that core behavior. We want to make games that last more than 15 years. That's why we made the decision to change it."
Check out the rest of the interview for more of Smedley's thoughts on EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, and SOE's future.